About This Project
I'm inventing scalable, simplified and economic carbon removal solutions based on the latest advances in AI, surface proteomics and biology.
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What is the context of this research?
Continuing excessive CO2 emissions could soon double preindustrial levels and exacerbate global warming unless sequestration is rapidly scaled up. Chemical sequestration is being trialled but current methods are energetically expensive, require considerable investment in facilities close to large emitters and are not very effective with low- CO2 percentage outflows. Utilising photosynthetic cyanobacteria is a possible alternative. Cyanobacteria are responsible for approximately a quarter of global primary production (conversion of CO2 to biomass) and could remediate direct anthropogenic outflows of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (e.g. Nitrous oxide- N2O) from industrial sources, including many low-CO2 percentage emitters.
What is the significance of this project?
Successful implementation of cyanobacteria for CO2/N2O sequestration is dependent on utilising fast growing strains. The recently discovered species, Synechococcus PCC 11901 (PCC 11901), demonstrates the fastest growth and highest biomass accumulation of any known cyanobacterium, can be cultured in seawater with minimal nutrients and is genetically amenable. However, since it is a unicellular species, it can only be harvested via energetically and commercially expensive methods like centrifugation. Generating PCC 11901 strains that sediment, similar to easily harvestable species used to produce the food supplement Spirulina, would make commercialisation of cyanobacterial carbon sequestration more cost effective and easy to implement at smaller scale.
What are the goals of the project?
The major goal of this project is to engineer new strains of PCC 11901 that rapidly sediment and can be cheaply grown and harvested. Specifically, I will utilise recently developed genetic tools to engineer markerless and non-hazardous strains of cyanobacteria that are simultaneously: (i) as productive as wild-type PCC 11901; (ii) can sediment without external energy input and therefore are compatible with the most rapidly scalable and economic harvesting methods. Such strains could potentially enable cost reductions of ~90% and thereby cross tipping points of mass adoptions similar to solar energy which is now being rolled out at scale after crossing economic tipping points and emerging as the most cost-effective solution in most regions.
Lab rent fees: 20 k$ (1 year).
DNA synthesis costs: designed constructs as selectable plasmids, potentially also more complex combinations depending on intermediate results: 40 k$.
Media costs, chemicals and labware: 20 k$.
Crispr and mini centrifuge: 20 k$.
LEDs, incubator and photobioreactors: 20 k$.
FTE(salary): 80 k$. (1 year)
1-3 months: test of designed antibiotics-marked strains.
4-7 months: generation of marker-less chromosomal integrations of best-performing constructs and small-scale growth tests
8-12 months: quantitative evaluation of best-performing unmarked strains in photobioreactors for cost modelling and economic benefit analysis.
Apr 30, 2024
intermediate report on marked strain selection
Jul 31, 2024
Intermediate report on unmarked strain selection progress.
Dec 31, 2024
Meet the Team
Dr. David-Paul Minde
I have a background in protein modelling from atomistic molecular modelling to in vivo cellular membrane complexes, AI-accelerated membrane protein engineering and surface protein analyses which are crucial for success of this proposed project.
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